Although we climb at the trestle area at Exit 38 quite frequently, I'd never climbed at The Far Side, so, seeking some variety, we headed over there on this beautiful July day. It takes only a few minutes longer to walk up to this crag than it does to get to the trestle area, and with the southern exposure it could provide a really nice destination on those cold but sunny days we get here in the fall.
We didn't do a lot of climbing this day, but I started out leading "False Pretenses" (5.7) a wierd, traversing route that puts plenty of air under your feet while you're working out moves that aren't always entirely obvious. Annette followed me, and congratulated me on doing a lead she wouldn't have wanted to do! Rob led the route next, and claimed it would be a 5.4 or 5.5 "back home" in Great Britain, and Maren started following. She got a bit off route, and was unable to get back on - the only 5.7 I've ever seen Maren not be able to do, and she was following, not leading. Says something about the route! I went ahead and followed Rob's lead to clean the gear and rap down, but the anchor station was set such that I decided just to get clipped in and be lowered off. I was in a reasonably secure, but strenuous stem to do the final rope work, and I finally decided I just wanted out of there, regardless of the wear on the rope.
The base of the crag isn't near as toddler friendly as the trestle climbing area is, and Maren decided she and Bryden would head back down after that. We moved over a little, and Rob led "Sheltered Upbringing", a 3 star 5.10b. On top rope, Annette worked the route quickly, and then it was my turn to flail, and flail I did. I came off several times, and had a heck of a time working my way through the moves about a third of the way up. The crux is supposed to come near the top, and I did struggle there, but not near as much as lower down. I'll have to go back and give it another try - cool route, but I sure was missing something that day! Two other friends - Kurt and Diane - showed up just about then, and we gave them each a shot at the climb. Rob then had the honor of reclimbing the route to finish cleaning the gear and rapping back down. Checking out the guide book (Bryan Burdo's "North Bend Sport Climbs: Exit 38"), we headed up and over to try "Party Girl", a fun looking 5.7 that we hoped would be easier that our first route! I lead the route, and it turned out to be fun, juggy, and much more straightforward than "False Pretenses" - maybe I just need to do more traverse routes! Diane came up with the best climbing line of the day on this route: "Hey, I could really enjoy becoming a lesbian climber - I really like grabbing these jugs!" If you know Diane, that line is even more hilarious, considering how reserved and demure she usually is!
Although there were plenty more interesting an moderate lines here, I felt like I was done for the day. It was a good introduction to a new area for me, and certainly an area I'll come back to. I've heard great things about the bouldering.top rope area, "The Gritscone". It's high on my list of places to check out...